♪ >> reporter: -- tens of thousands flocked to tiger stadium. owen beaver was in the motor city. >> i met him for the first time. i got to tell you, we embraced. >> reporter: it was a whirlwind trip. 8 cities, 12 days. stops in miami, los angeles, washington, d.c., and atlanta. >> to be so young and to meet a leader as great as mandela was a really big moment. >> reporter: this woman was just 10 years old at the time, on the tarmac in atlanta. >> i just remember looking in his face. even as young as i was, i remember thinking just what a kindness there was about him and his eyes thinking how amazing it was for somebody who had been through so much to not have a hardened heart. >> reporter: nelson mandela, a man who survived prison to become president, inspiring countless people, changing how so many view the world and themselves. rehema ellis, nbc news, new york.